LoCos, Leaders, and Lessons Learned: Michigan Team

Article contributed by Amber Graner

Ubuntu Michigan

In the latest LoCo Team interview in this US Teams Interview Series – LoCos, Leaders, and Lessons Learned, Amber Graner talks to Greg Grossmeier of the Ubuntu Michigan LoCo Team. Greg talks about the history of the team, resources, events, a new podcast put together but Ubuntu Michigan team members and more!

US-Teams: Could you tell us a little about you and what your role in the LoCo Team is?

Greg Grossmeier: Well yes! My name is Greg Grossmeier and during the day I work as the Copyright Specialist at the University of Michigan Library where I work with such great projects as Open.Michigan and the Scholarly Publishing Office. I’m also a Fellow at Creative Commons (where I interned when in grad school). But most importantly (for this conversation) I am the (by name only) leader of the Michigan LoCo Team. I can’t really say I’m the leader of the team without qualifying it because without the tremendous help of many people in the LoCo there would be nothing to lead.

US: When was the Ubuntu Michigan LoCo team started? How long after it was started did it take to get approved?

GG: The Launchpad team for the Michigan LoCo was created in June of 2007. That was the summer before I went to grad school and I thought “Hey, I know what would be a great compliment to starting a graduate school program, starting an Ubuntu LoCo team!” To my surprise, and everyone else’s, it actually worked!

However, this team didn’t start from scratch in June of 2007. I unknowingly started a team that had already tried to start before. The awesome Jorge Castro (and others) had started a LoCo for the area a while before, but it was laying dormant when I came into the picture. In fact, I “started” the LoCo before I had even moved to Michigan. While still in Minneapolis, MN I created the IRC channel, wiki page, mailing list, and Launchpad team; setting up the technical infrastructure from afar.

But with Jorge (and others’) help, we got more interest in the team, met a few times, and the Michigan LoCo was back in business.

US: What tools do you use for your team? Mailing Lists, Forums, IRC, websites, Micro-blogging sites etc.

GG: We use mostly the IRC channel (#ubuntu-us-mi) and the mailing list (ubuntu-us-mi@lists.ubuntu.com). There was some initial interest with the Forum but that has slowly died down (except for people asking about the IRC channel). We also have an identi.ca group that (sadly) doesn’t get used for much except spam accounts joining it.

US: On the road to LoCo approval what were some of the challenges the team faced and how did the team overcome them?

GG: Mostly, the challenges we faced was focusing our energies on specific attainable goals like bug/packaging jams. There was also the issue that South East Michigan area (where many of the team members live) has no lack of techie groups to join and there are many LUGs and other User Groups to consider. So one of the things we needed to do right away was convince people that A) we weren’t trying to steal members from other groups and B) our group added something special and different to what was already available.

US: What are the biggest challenges your team faces now and what strategies does the team use to over come them?

GG: The biggest current challenge is probably the momentum problem. We have been fairly lax lately with our event planning. We have participated in the major events like the Ubuntu Global Jam and of course the release parties, but getting together more often is definitely one of our major goals. One strategy that worked recently was for one of our members to get married (congratulations Jorge and Jill!); that brought much of the LoCo team out and having fun along with (gasp!) dancing.

US: What types of activities does the LoCo Team participate in? Are there any events the LoCo team sponsors?

GG: Along with release parties and the Global Jam, the team also makes sure to have a presence at local events like Penguicon, the Ohio Linux Fest, and PyOhio.

US: What are some of the projects your LoCo team has worked on? What are some of the upcoming projects the Ubuntu community can expect to see from the LoCo team throughout the next cycle?

GG: While the words “Ubuntu” and “Michigan” are not in the title, the new Lococast.net podcast from Michigan LoCo members Rick and Craig is a great project that is taking off from conversations in the Michigan LoCo IRC channel (and other places). We are excited to see where this will go!

US: What are some of the ways in which the LoCo actively recruits new members? What resources have you created or do you use (ie posters, fliers, business cards, banners etc)

GG: We actually do much with word of mouth: attending other local groups in the area (the members of the LoCo are almost always members of other groups as well), talking with new people at local events, and even promoting our LoCo via the great new Lococast.net

US: What do you think is the best aspect of being part of a LoCo team is?

GG: Simply, the chance to meet and hang out with great people in the area. I wouldn’t have any other way of reliably meeting such good people (Penguicon is VERY hit or miss).

US: What has been the most rewarding and exciting moment for the LoCo Team to date and why?

GG: I can’t speak for the entire team, but when myself and others took our application to the Community Council to be an official LoCo team, that was a great achievement.

US: What suggestions would you offer for newly formed LoCo teams or those teams working toward approval right now?

GG: Get out there! Talk with people! Keep your mailing list and IRC channels active. No one likes to hang out with quiet people. Most importantly: have a good time. Because being boring is almost worse than being quiet.

US: What tips, tricks, tools, references etc would you suggest for the leadership of a LoCo team?

GG: Along with getting out there and talking with people, just be sure to listen to your team. Don’t think that you know the right way of doing something. Your goal should be to attract smart and engaged people, so treat them like they are.

US: When you think of the Ubuntu Community and the spirit of Ubuntu how does the LoCo embody and share that spirit?

GG: We are always the first to help each no matter what, and with anything. Also, I think one of the most telling examples of how our LoCo team, while relatively small, epitomizes the concept of Ubuntu, is Jorge and Jill’s wedding. It really was very special to see the turn out of the LoCo team there celebrating that wonderful occasion.

US: Is there anything else about the LoCo team, or suggestions for being an effective and successful LoCo team you would like to share that you haven’t already?

GG: Have fun!

To get a peek at some of the fun the team has, check out photos from some of their past events:

Gutsy Release Party: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7508761@N03/1636244836/in/set-72157602529198873/
Jaunty Release Party: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grggrssmr/3476604620/in/set-72157617391698128/
Lucid Release Party: http://picasaweb.google.com/brousch/WestMIUbuntuLucidReleaseParty#5466095970570143586

[Discuss this interview with the Michigan Team on the Forum]

Originally posted by Elizabeth Krumbach here on Wed Aug 18 2010

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